Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jason Ackman: Ideas & Inspiration

by Nichole Lance

Jason Ackman. Except for This. 2010. Reclaimed Lumber, Reclaimed Clay, Latex Paint, 48”x28”x51”. This artwork is featured in "Art St. Louis XXVIII, The Exhibition" and was selected for an Award of Excellence by exhibition Juror Mr. Richard V. West.

When Art Saint Louis' Artistic Director Robin Hirsch asked me to consider the artists in the current exhibit, "Art St. Louis XXVIII" and write something for this blog, I found that I was particularly drawn to the sculptural work of Rushville, Illinois artist Jason Ackman. I was struck by his choice of materials and design. But moreover, I was impressed by the simple and yet complex messages conveyed behind each of his works. I interviewed him via email and what follows is our conversation.

Nichole: What inspires your works?

Jason: "This is an ongoing ever-changing list. Ideas and inspiration come from all over the place. Often times it is the unexpected that really gets my gears turning."

Jason Ackman. Things we choose to forget. 2012. Reclaimed Lumber, Latex Paint, 55.5”x28.5”x14”.

Nichole: Your works feel like they are created with a strong purpose. Could you elaborate on the message you are trying to convey?  

Jason: "For me, the medium is as important as the work itself. Almost all of the materials I use are reclaimed. Whether it is wood or clay. I suppose I am trying to communicate the relationship I notice between the material and people. Materials, like people, have a history a story. This connection is very important to me. I don't think my work would convey the same message with newly purchased materials."

Nichole: What are the symbolisms behind Except for This?

Jason: "We all have baggage and a history. Those things we carry with us for one reason or another. Life experiences, joys, tragedies, all impact what we choose to hold onto and carry with us. Yet when  all is said and done and my time here on Earth is has come full circle what can what can I take with me?  Nothing except for this...our heart, our soul."

Jason Ackman. Turning Point. 2012. Reclaimed Lumber, Latex Paint, 72”x64”x156”.

Jason also explained two other sculptural pieces.

Turning Point (pictured above): "This piece deals with transition and stepping out into uncharted territory. Our past is deeply connected to who we are. We often feel ourselves bound to this past or history. Ultimately we come to a point where we either continue on in the same direction or we cut ourselves loose and respond to where we feel called or drawn to. Moving in this direction forces us out of our comfort zone, taking us somewhere we have not been The lower boat symbolizes stability, comfort and safety. It is turned over, as if out of the water with the milk crates acting like supports and roots to my childhood. The upper boat is symbolic of a new direction. The stability is not there and the stern is precariously balanced on a stack of children's blocks. The oars are up as if to say I can't necessarily steer myself and I have to let go."

Jason Ackman. Early On. 2011. Reclaimed Lumber, Latex Paint, 52”x60”x60”.

Early On (pictured above): "This piece was created in response to my childhood and small town upbringing. As a young boy I spent many hours with my father in the various grocery stores he managed in our hometown. It was during those times and through those experiences of watching, learning and absorbing that I learned quite a bit about life…what is important and what is not, things to hold onto and things to let go of, how to interact with and respect people and the list goes on and on. The blocks represent all of those experiences, those in the cart the ones worth holding onto and those outside the cart representing those we leave behind. The cart is symbolic of how we carry our experiences with us and how they continue to impact what we see and experience in life around us."

Nichole: In the end our work's perception and interpretation is ultimately left up to our viewers but what do you hope your works will convey to your viewers? 

Jason: "I hope that they will ultimately start a conversation. Art affords the perfect opportunity for dialog."

Jason Ackman. Breach. 2012. Reclaimed Lumber, Latex Paint, 95”x38”x24”.

Nichole: And how do you use titles to aid the viewer in grasping your ultimate vision?
Jason: "Titles are a tough thing. Often times the titles I choose reflect what I am thinking or feeling through the work. I have a specific concept or vision for each piece I create and I try to choose a title that I feel can communicate that vision."


"Art St. Louis XXVIII, The Exhibition" is presented at Art Saint Louis October 29-December 27, 2012. Gallery is free and open to the public M & Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tu-Fr 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sundays & holidays, including Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Art Saint Louis is located at 555 Washington Avenue, #150, St. Louis, MO. 314/241-4810. www.artstlouis.org


Nichole Lance is a Fall 2012 Intern at Art Saint Louis. A senior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, she will graduate this Fall with a BFA in Studio/Drawing. You can see Nichole's thesis artwork exhibited in the “SIUE BFA Fall 2012 Exhibition” on view in the Morris University Center Gallery at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL (November 27-December 5).

If you know of a undergrad or grad level college student interested in serving as a Winter 2013 intern, have that person visit the ASL website and download our Internship Application and we can set up an interview and hopefully schedule an internship!

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